Second mass whale beaching in Australia in a week
29th November 2003
Australian wildlife officers said Saturday that a sperm whale, which was the sole survivor of the second mass whale beaching in Australia in a week, appeared unharmed by the ordeal.
Officers from the Tasmania state Nature Conservation Branch arrived on Flinders Island late Friday and found nine sperm whales dead and one alive but stranded on a sandbank.
Spokesman Warwick Brennan said rescuers used a fishing net as a sling around the eight-metre (26.4 feet) whale, with two boats towing it off the sandbar at high tide.
"Now it's in deeper water and it's resting," Brennan said. "It's upright and it's breathing freely, so we're hoping it'll eventually swim away."
More than 100 pilot whales and 10 dolphins were found dead in a mysterious mass beaching on the coast of the southern island state of Tasmania Tuesday.
The mass beaching of whales has long mystified scientists, who have offered theories to explain the phenomenon that range from diseases that upset the mammals' internal navigation system to herd behaviour in which large numbers of whales blindly follow a leader into trouble.
Others believe they may follow stocks of food such as crayfish too close to the shore.